Professional Military Education

A Cross-Cultural Survey

by Duraid Jalili (Volume editor) Hubert Annen (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 234 Pages

Table Of Content

Duraid Jalili

Introduction: The Need for Non-Western Perspectives in the Field of Military Pedagogy

Abstract: This chapter outlines the rationale behind the creation of this book dedicated to non-Western perspectives on professional military education, including: the relative dominance of European and North American perspectives in published collections on military pedagogy, the increasing emphasis on international student programmes at military colleges worldwide, and the ambiguous ongoing application of non-military cultural taxonomies in military settings. In addition, it provides an overview of the chapters featured within the book.

Keywords: PME, military education, military pedagogy, intercultural education, international students, education reform, cross-cultural perspectives


There exists a self-evident paradox in the creation of a book that seeks to bring together ‘non-Western’ viewpoints, in the English language by a European publisher. Indeed, it could be argued that the very act of collating non-European and North American perspectives on military pedagogy is built upon a fetishized perception of cultural difference and an assumption that European and North American viewpoints are in some way marked by a broad cultural homogeneity. Although these critiques are valid, there exist equally valid practical and theoretical reasons for such a book.

The first, and most obvious, is that perspectives from non-Western practitioners are radically underrepresented in published collections of military pedagogical studies. Whether it stems from a lack of awareness, access or inclination, this has resulted in a predominantly European and North American bias in the field of military pedagogy. This scenario naturally inhibits the level of attention given to alternative pedagogical commentaries and critiques from a broad range of nations. The risk, as with any in-group formation, is that this trend eventually transmogrifies into a status quo, resulting in a lack of variety in the subject matters, epistemologies and methodologies covered within the field.

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The second, practical reason is that there exists an ongoing expansion of international student programmes across defence and security colleges worldwide, as well as a growing emphasis on professional military educational (PME) collaboration, as evidenced by the increasing array of inter-collegiate exchange programmes, practitioner conferences and working groups, and PME reform organisations such as the Partnership for Peace Consortium (PfP). These trends have both highlighted and increased the need for military educators to enhance their understanding of the pedagogical and cultural contexts of international peers and students. Increasing the breadth of available perspectives on military education also serves to assist practitioners in appraising and interrogating their own pedagogies.

This is not to say that the disparities between Western and non-Western pedagogies are always significant. Indeed, there are broad commonalities between the PME systems of a wide number of different countries. It is difficult to find a global military, for example, that does not implement some system of differentiation between the tactical, operational and strategic levels of education, or that does not modulate the traditional lecture format with some form of practicum or learner-centred activity, such as seminar discussions, personal study time, roleplaying, mentoring or written assignments. Similarly, discussions on wider issues such as the need for academic rigour, the correct balance of critical thinking and warfighting skills and the differences between ‘education’ and ‘training’ are common across the educational institutions of many (if not most) militaries. Such commonalities are, in part, the result of the historical expansion of European, Soviet and Maoist military educational models through colonialization, politico-military alliances and individual protagonists (such as Emil Körner and Emory Upton), as well as the knowledge sharing and benchmarking activities of contemporary epistemic communities of military educators (see, for example, Libel, 2017, pp.208–209).

Despite this, there exists a tendency across a number of militaries and military pedagogical studies to use essentialist cultural concepts or taxonomies in their discourses on foreign PME systems, on training requirements for transnational operations or on the motivations, behaviours and needs of international students, amongst other subjects. This scenario ←10 | 11→presents self-evident issues. The continued use of cultural taxonomies (most notably those of Geert Hofstede, Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner) within the field of PME, for example, may at times belie the inherent limitations of transferring non-military studies to a military context, or serve to reinforce the essentialist anthropological concept that beliefs and/or behaviours are somehow innate (Holmes-Eber et al, 2009, p.5).

In reality, as noted by Selmezki (2007, p.4), “Individuals may have multiple, even conflicting cultural influences that they abide by, negotiate between, or ignore as circumstances dictate.” In the military educational environment, these cultural influences can include ethnic, gender, religious, sexual, socio-economic, strategic, military and service cultures, among others. The existence of “important subsets of attitudes” within each of the military services (Hadley, 1986, pp.71–72), for example, may result in a student feeling more affiliation with a fellow submariner than with someone from their native country. Whether it takes the form of a student placing greater trust in a “leader who is from the same military service” (Lester and Vogelgesang, 2012, p.182) or adapting one’s actions to assimilate within a male-dominated military college (Brown and Syme-Taylor, 2012, p.453), in the field of military education there exists a continual act of self-categorization and cultural prioritization across both students and staff.

In reading and analysing this book of ‘non-Western’ perspectives on military pedagogy, therefore, it is important not to interpret themes as being inherently representative of national mindsets or to construe similarities between chapters as proof of a set of unified cross-cultural concerns. Instead, the chapters within this book are necessarily performative responses to a specific request for non-Western perspectives, by a set of individuals seeking to represent PME activities that are both culturally specific and capable of wider application, through a medium that requires both academic rigour and experiential acumen. This focus on the intentions, biases and concerns of individual authors not only helps to circumvent the use of essentialist frameworks but allows us to better understand how independent perspectives and individual agency may be shaping and informing national pedagogical priorities as well as specific teaching and learning activities.

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Overview of Featured Chapters

As we shall now consider, this miscellany of perspectives has resulted in a number of common themes, including: the historical interplay between civil-military relations and military pedagogy, the impact and challenges of incorporating civilian methods and academics within military education, the effect of culture on the adoption and implementation of (pre-dominantly European) military pedagogies, the importance of increased interoperability and inter-cultural skills, the evolution of the military organisational model and the implementation of new curricula and pedagogies. Although most of the chapters within this book contain at least two to three of these focus areas, to varying degrees, an effort has been made to separate chapters into thematic sections. At the very least, this format provides an additional interpretational linkage through which to read and compare the chapters. At their core, however, the chapters within this book are bound by a common purpose, to assess how and to what extent military education should adapt to shifting contexts.

Two chapters that exemplify this common purpose are those of Major General (Ret.) Dr. Noel Khokhar and Major General (Ret.) Muhammad Inuwa Idris, who both present unique, first-hand accounts of large-scale contemporary PME reform initiatives. In his chapter on the radical educational reforms implemented by the Pakistan Armed Forces since 2005, for example, Major General (Ret.) Dr. Noel Khokhar highlights the pace and extent to which contemporary PME strategies are shaped by politically fluid and asymmetrical conflict scenarios, requiring innovative, agile and operationally adaptable soldiers, with emotional intelligence, technological literacy and cross-cultural skills. Specifically, the chapter demonstrates how military education at the strategic, operational and tactical levels in Pakistan was profoundly influenced by the events of 9/11, the resulting invasion of Afghanistan and formation of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan terrorist organization in 2005. Among other things, this analysis reveals the importance of combining active in-theatre training with specialized technical training, increasing jointness across services and creating a culture that recognizes and incentivizes the achievements of high performing students.

As show in Major General (Ret.) Muhammad Inuwa Idris’ chapter, however, the course of military pedagogical reform is not always a smooth ←12 | 13→one. Assessing the reforms that were implemented at the National Defence Academy (Kaduna) from 2013–2015, the chapter provides a powerful critique on the detrimental impact of over-politicization and careerism of military officers, absence of joint doctrine, broad replication of external curricula, and negligent staff recruitment and retention policies, on the Nigerian military educational system. In order to overcome such deficiencies, it advocates the creation of collaborative links and strategic partnerships between colleges (both nationally and internationally). Perhaps most importantly, the chapter highlights the need to balance long-term projects with immediate gains, as well as safeguarding long-term reforms by generating internal support across a college’s faculty, thus mitigating the structural deficiencies of an educational system in which the longevity of reforms is at the whim of future commandants with their own personal educational visions and career priorities.

Another significant factor affecting the progress (or lack thereof) of military pedagogical reform, is that of civil-military relations and the potential for heavy-handed state intermediation on PME. As seen in three chapters by Colonel Ulysses Prada, Jorge Serrano Torres and Colonel (Ret.) Juan Carlos Liendo O’Connor and Diego Pérez Enríquez, Milton Reyes Herrera and Carla Álvarez Velasco, respectively, there exists significant value in historical analyses of the impact of national political priorities and military education, as well as the impact of military education on national politics.

Using Charles Moskos’ formative concept of the Institutional, Occupational and Plural models for the armed forces, Colonel Ulysses Prada outlines how the frameworks and objectives of military education are dependent upon and necessarily tailored towards the military’s wider organizational structure. Specifically, he examines how civil-military mistrust within Uruguay, from the 1920s until the early 21st century, has resulted in a lack of sufficient direction for the armed forces, which in turn has inhibited their ability to prepare and evolve an educational system relevant for Uruguay’s specific national security contexts. For the Uruguayan military to generate relevant educational programmes for its officers and soldiers, he concludes, it must be provided with a long-term vision for national security that is not influenced by party politics.

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Taking as their starting point the significant percentage of Peruvian presidents who have been army officers and graduates of the Chorrillos Military School (Escuela Militar de Chorrillos), Jorge Serrano Torres and Colonel (Ret.) Juan Carlos Liendo O’Connor provide a historical analysis of civil-military relations through the perspective of military pedagogy and the civilian academe in Peru. Their chapter reveals how significant fluctuations in PME reforms from the 19th century to the present day have been influenced by the different approaches, needs and concerns of successive governments regarding the role of the armed forces and the importance of educating military officers at the strategic level. Above all, their analysis highlights the lack of cohesion that can occur between military and civilian academic communities, and the strategic importance of creating suitable academic spaces for the joint training of civilian and military professionals in security, development and defence.

Providing an interesting contrast to the Peruvian case study, Diego Pérez Enríquez, Milton Reyes Herrera, and Carla Álvarez Velasco chart the development of military education in post-transitional Ecuador (1972–2016) and the varied impact of state intermediation on PME reform during periods of shifting legal, economic and political renewal. Focusing largely on the country’s oldest security training institution, the Institute of Higher National Studies (Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales), they demonstrate that the evolution of Ecuador’s military education system is representative of a historical process of rapprochement between the armed forces and the strategic political level of the state. The authors argue that this has resulted in a level of integration of civilians within military education, designed to aid dialogue and enhance decision-making across the civil-military divide. As noted by the authors, however, the profound legal, institutional and political reforms seen over the last decade in Ecuador, make it difficult to analyse or fully predict the end result of this process of educational reform.

The concern surrounding civil-military relations, of course, extends beyond the various interactions and potential schisms between political and military elites. The increasing integration of civilian academics and pedagogies within military educational establishments has catalysed a great deal of debate and contrasting opinions, for military and civilian educators alike. In the chapters of Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Marcelo J. Alem Troncoso, Ho Shu Huang and Andrea Falla Rubiano, we find a range of ←14 | 15→varying perspectives on a number of key contexts that can influence the relative success or failure of civilianization in PME.

Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Marcelo J. Alem Troncoso, for example, argues that the civilian pedagogical reforms implemented in late 20th and early 21st century Argentina resulted in a vision for national education that did not fully account for the needs of occupational training. His chapter reveals how an increasing governmental focus on research competencies within higher education alongside an indiscriminate emulation of other nations’ PME systems, may have resulted in an uneasy balance between the teaching of theory and practicum, a reduced emphasis on professional competences, and the undermining of cultural traditions which remain vital to the Argentine military identity and the basic functioning of a military force in a conflict scenario. For Lieutenant Colonel Troncoso, however, a potential solution to this is to be found in the field of ‘labour pedagogy’, which adapts the basic principles and norms of pedagogical knowledge and applies them to the context of employment.

In his chapter on the professional development and education of the Singapore Armed Forces, Ho Shu Huang addresses four key challenges faced by ‘outsider’ educational contractors in scenarios in which the academic education of military officers has been outsourced to a civilian university. Specifically, different perspectives on the notion of ‘time’, teacher-student rapport, student motivation and student ability. Focussing on the Singapore Armed Forces’ Tri-Service Warfighter Course, the chapter places particular emphasis on the challenges faced by lecturers who are only present in the military environment during their teaching hours. It contends that successful PME requires a process of compromise between the military client and academic contractor, and that academics should view their experiences as learning opportunities that can benefit their own work and generate self-reflexivity when assessing the value of civilian pedagogies.

In her analysis of the educational practices of the Military School of Aviation ‘Marco Fidel Suárez’ (Escuela Militar de Aviación ‘Marco Fidel Suárez’), Andrea Falla Rubiano highlights two key difficulties facing contemporary military education in Colombia’s post-FARC era. Firstly, the challenges encountered when educating officers for whom digital multitasking is an ingrained behaviour. Secondly, the challenges of integrating concepts such as peace-making, education for peace and sustainable ←15 | 16→development across military curricula, in line with the post-FARC educational policies of the Colombian Government. Through her analysis of a number of specific teaching methods, she reveals how socio-humanistic pedagogies can be applied within a military context, to enhance PME objectives and to inspire new ways of thinking in future officers.

In addition to the ongoing incorporation of civilian pedagogies and practices, contemporary militaries face an increasing strategic impetus to internationalise their officers and, as a result, the education of those officers. In their respective chapters, Dr. Jowaiti Juhary and Lieutenant Colonel Mahammad Moumin, provide unique case studies that address the challenges faced by military educators (both civilian and military) in seeking to balancing internationalisation with national pedagogies, cultural priorities and wider strategic contexts.

In her chapter on the creation of internationalised military leaders of moral character in Malaysia, for example, Dr. Jowaiti Juhary contends that a natural diversity exists between the PME systems of different countries. Using the National Defence University of Malaysia as a case study, the chapter reveals an inherent duality between Malaysia’s internal socio-cultural emphasis on creating intellectual leaders with spiritual, sporting, combat and socio-diplomatic integrity and the growing strategic and operational need to enhance the internationalisation of Malaysian officers. As outlined by the chapter, in order to balance these concepts, the university adopts a pedagogical philosophy centred around three concepts: Fikrah (Nature), Amal (Practices) and Akhlak (Attitudes). Although the approaches used to implement these concepts possess significant similarities to European pedagogical traditions, their application as part of the university’s wider goals reveals subtle contrasts between European and Malaysian models of military pedagogy.

As outlined by Lieutenant Colonel Mahammad Moumin, military forces in Africa must contend with a broad range of threats, ranging from transnational terrorist groups, to human and drug trafficking networks. Francophone African militaries, however, face a particularly difficult challenge in developing and implementing the educational policies necessary to secure their territories against such threats. Central to this challenge is the impact of budgetary deficits that significantly limit infrastructure, equipment, personnel and educational exchanges for military colleges. In some ←16 | 17→instances, this has led to a partial reliance on foreign technical support, specifically in the form of Regional Vocational Schools (Ecoles a Vocation Régionale). As argued by Lieutenant Colonel Moumin, therefore, military educators in francophone African countries must chart a difficult course between national autonomy and trans-national collaboration, combining ambition with pragmatism.

Following on from these chapters, the final three chapters of the book address the ever-increasing need for interoperability and inter-cultural awareness in modern military education, with particular emphasis on the role of such skills in coalition and peacekeeping operations. In Ambassador Brigadier General (Ret.) Marcel Chirwa’s chapter, for example, we find a unique insight on the role that PME associations can play in standardizing, harmonizing and coordinating training across multiple countries and institutions. Through an in-depth analysis of the six core objectives of the African Peace Support Trainers’ Association, the chapter highlights the type of challenges that such associations must address, the methods by which they can contribute, the bureaucratic procedures required to achieve these goals and the financial inhibitors that may affect their capacity to achieve significant reforms. In addition to its core focus, Ambassador Chirwa’s chapter inadvertently demonstrates the vital importance of patience, perseverance and attention to detail in the PME reform process.

In her chapter on the work of Argentina’s National Military College (Colegio Militar de la Nación), Professor Silvia Christina Bernava y Rosas highlights the need to train military personnel to appreciate alternative socio-political and cultural perspectives, as a means of enhancing interoperability. Specifically, she outlines a number of teaching and learning frameworks that incorporate intellectual, ethical and competency-based training, including operational and policy roleplaying scenarios with students from across the military and civilian sectors. The chapter contends that these frameworks fulfil a vital requirement for modern militaries in an era of hybrid warfare and complex politico-military relationships, by giving officers the skillsets required to adapt to new security threats in the national and international, single-service and coalition environments.

In seeking to better inform military education for international peacekeeping deployments, Colonel Dr. Eri Hidayat, Dr. Urip Purwono and Dr. Harry Susianto’s chapter considers how cultural differences can ←17 | 18→influence the decision-making of soldiers in-theatre. Specifically, their analysis of 241 Indonesian and 83 French peacekeepers deployed within the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mission, reveals how culture-related personality types can affect cross-cultural competencies. Their findings and advocacy of psychological training methods that combine cognitive and behavioural techniques, bear direct relevance for the development of curricular and pre-deployment training materials for peacekeeping operations, as well as contributing to the wider academic discourse on cross-cultural competencies in peacekeeping operations.


It is reasonable to assume that professional military education, like so many expert spheres, must continue to adapt its focus and methodologies to account for an increasingly heterogeneous array of cultural contexts. This may take the form of rapidly evolving operational contexts, fluctuating student and staff demographics, schisms between political and military elites, and internationalisation or civilianization of military curricula and teaching methods. As seen within this book, however, the challenges inherent to this process of adaptation are not restricted to the European or North American environments, but extend across different nations, militaries and individuals. In increasing access to cross-cultural perspectives within the field of military pedagogy, it is possible to better understand the ways in which the challenges facing military educators across the globe tend to vary or coalesce. How educators choose to interpret or address these challenges, however, is inherently influenced by a range of personal cultural contexts that may be prioritized or deprioritized by such individuals depending on the specific scenario in which they find themselves. As this book reveals, it is this individual agency that, perhaps above all, directs the evolution and priorities of military pedagogy, from large-scale PME reform to individual classroom sessions.


Brown, K.E. and Syme-Taylor, V. (2012). Women academics and feminism in professional military education. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 31(5/6): pp.452–466.

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Hadley, A.T. (1986). The Straw Giant - Triumph and Failure: America’s Armed Forces. New York: Random House.

Holmes-Eber, P., Scanlon, P.M., and Hamlen, A.L. (2009). Introduction. In: Holmes-Eber, P., Scanlon, P.M., and Hamlen, A.L. (eds.) Applications in Operational Culture: Perspectives from the Field, pp.1–14. Quantico, VA: Marine Corps University Press.

Lester, P.B. and Vogelgesang, G.R. (2012). Swift Trust in Ad Hoc Military Organizations. In: Laurence, J.H., and Matthews, M.D. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Military Psychology, pp.176–186. Oxford: OUP.

Libel, T. (2017). European Military Culture and Security Governance: Soldiers, scholars and national defence universities. Routledge: Abingdon.

Selmezki, B.R. (2007). Military Cross-Cultural Competence: core concepts and individual development. AFCLC Contract Report 2007–01. Ontario: Royal Military College of Canada.

Major General (Ret.) Dr. Noel Khokhar

Re-Evaluating the Strategic Contexts for Professional Military Education in the 21st Century1

Abstract: This chapter demonstrates how military education at the strategic, operational and tactical levels in Pakistan has been radically influenced by the events of 9/11, the resulting invasion of Afghanistan and the formation of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan terrorist organization in 2005. It highlights the importance of combining active in-theatre training with specialised technical training, enhancing jointness across services, and creating a culture that recognises and incentivises the achievements of high performing students. In doing so, it provides a useful case study of a large-scale educational reform process, undertaken in response to a rapidly shifting and fluid strategic context. It also demonstrates the increasing strategic need for innovative, agile, and operationally adaptable soldiers, with emotional intelligence, technological literacy and cross-cultural skills.

Keywords: PME, military education, Pakistan Armed Forces, terrorism, interoperability, Taliban, Pakistan Military Academy


The strategic context of any individual state may be analysed from a variety of different perspectives, including political, economic, social, geographical, and environmental. In addition to these broader contexts, the formulation of any integrated national security strategy requires an assessment of four key elements: the evolving security situation, current and potential trends that are likely to affect the country and shape its future, an understanding of the methods by which the country’s leadership can shape events through the application of national power (and the potential risks ←23 | 24→and benefits of these actions), and an awareness of allies and adversaries who can either assist or impede this overall security strategy.

In order to understand the contemporary educational strategies of the Pakistan Armed Forces, therefore, it is necessary to review the political and security environment that has informed Pakistan’s strategic security context over the last few decades. In 1991, the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union ushered in a new world order, defined by the pre-eminence of the United States and the West. In its aftermath it was expected that an era of peace and stability would ensue. However, these hopes were soon quashed by the phenomenon of terrorism which, since the infamous 9/11 attacks in 2001, has persisted as the dominant threat to global peace and stability.

The contemporary manifestation of terrorism initially encountered in Afghanistan and Iraq has evolved and multiplied in many ways and has been most prominently evidenced in recent years in the rise of the Islamic State (also known as Daesh). In its heyday, the terrorist acts perpetrated by Daesh represented one of the most significant threats facing both the stability of the region and the inter-state relations of major global powers involved in the conflict. Although Daesh’s stated goal is to resurrect a Caliphate with emirates around it, organisations such as Al-Qaeda, Daesh and Boko Haram have created a new world order of sorts, by mobilising social media alongside other methods to inspire lone wolf terrorists to destabilise their adversaries abroad.

Over a decade after the 9/11 attacks, the contemporary strategic context is also characterised by a range of other trends. The first of these is the economic and politico-military power shift occurring from the West to the East. The continued rise of China and other Asian countries including India is producing new complexities, power alignments, and arenas in which both regional and global interests are conflicting, competing and colluding. It could be said that we are living in an era of power redistribution, albeit accompanied with manifold nuances (highlighted by the complex network of by-proxy influences in the contemporary conflicts within Syria and Iraq).

Connected with this power shift is the ongoing proliferation of globalisation at varying paces across different regions, impacting the political, economic and social dimensions. Similarly, developments in ←24 | 25→communication and information technologies continue to revolutionise the social, economic and security sectors. These ‘progressive’ global trends have catalysed a range of destabilising effects and security challenges, including climate change, cyber terrorism, pandemics, and increasing economic inequality that are directly affecting contemporary terrorism, international instability and unprecedented global migration flows.

Thus, in two and a half decades the strategic context informing professional military education has altered from a Cold War setting focussed on a large-scale external military threat to a politically fluid and asymmetrical scenario in which ongoing socio-economic, technological and environmental security challenges are punctuated (and often overshadowed) by non-state actors seeking to deploy terrorism as an instrument for political gains. This terrorism pervades both the internal and external security of nation-states and has transformed the character of conflict in many ways, including generating new forms of warfare. As we shall now consider, this broader global strategic context has both affected and effected the security challenges faced by Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks and, thus, has required a significant strategic reorientation of the Pakistan Armed Forces.

Pakistan’s Strategic Security Context

Since its inception as a nation-state, Pakistan has focussed on the external threat from India as the primary threat to its nationhood. This strategic emphasis is rooted in the unresolved Kashmir issue and has resulted in three wars and a few near-wars. Now, over 70 years since its independence from India, the two countries remain locked in a no-war-no-peace situation. This scenario has been cemented by the nuclearizing of the subcontinent, commencing with India’s first successful nuclear bomb test on 18 May 1974. This external threat continues to define the response metrics of the Pakistan Armed Forces. Professional military education is accordingly structured to meet the dictates of full spectrum deterrence against a nuclear-capable adversary.

In addition to this primary threat, since 1960 the Pakistan Armed Forces have routinely deployed troops to United Nations peacekeeping operations across the world, necessitating an additional focus on training and education for such operations. These training programmes are not ←25 | 26→inconsequential. For example, from January 2008 to December 2017, Pakistan customarily contributed the largest number of personnel to UN peacekeeping missions, at an average of 8,969 military and police personnel per month, generally exceeding other consistently significant contributors such as India and Bangladesh (United Nations Peacekeeping, n.d.).

Although these enduring historical contexts still inform Pakistan’s military educational priorities, the events of 9/11 and the consequent decision by NATO (led by the United States) to invade Afghanistan significantly altered Pakistan’s overarching strategic priorities. The most important part of this shift occurred in 2003 when the United States reoriented its focus towards Iraq to enforce regime change, yet remained unable to extract its forces due to the continued destabilising effects of terrorism orchestrated by Al-Qaeda in Iraq. This diversion of its original mission led to the birth of a terrorist organisation in 2005 known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which declared war on both the nation and the military forces of Pakistan. This resulted in a range of terrorist operations mainly within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) (see Fig. 1.1) and the Swat District in North-West Pakistan.

This altered strategic context necessitated that, whilst continuing to maintain safeguards against the nation’s conventional threats, the Pakistan Armed Forces had to develop and deploy new anti-terrorist capabilities. This resulted in a range of sub-conventional operations by the Pakistan Army starting in mid-2007. To correctly account for the broad number and range of terrorist, civilian and government organisations involved in the conflict, and the intensity of persisting competing interests, a graduated and calibrated approach was essential for this series of operations. As shown in Tab. 1.1, the first major operation was undertaken against a group of terrorists who were using the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad and its affiliated seminaries as a base of operations.

Tab. 1.1: Key anti-terrorist operations by the Pakistan Armed Forces (2007–2014).





July 2007


Terrorists based in environs of Lal Masjid


Oct 2007/Feb 2008/Jan–June 2009

Rah-e-Haq, I, II, III

Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM)

Swat, Buner, Lower Dir and Shangla Districts

June–July 2008



Khyber Agency

Aug 2008–Feb 2009


Faqir Muhammad, ex TTP

Bajaur Agency

June–Dec 2009


Hakimullah Mehsud, Head of TTP

South Waziristan

Nov 2009

Rah-e-Nijat (Brekhna)

Mixed Terrorist Groups

Mohmand Agency

June 2014–Apr 2016


Mixed Terrorist Groups

North Waziristan

Three successive operations were then required to remove the terrorist infrastructure from the Swat District. This repetition was mainly due to the lack of a significant presence from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghanistan National Front (ANF) in the adjoining Nuristan province of Afghanistan. This allowed the terrorist groups to seek refuge in Afghanistan and then return to the Swat District once military operations had concluded. Indeed, until his death in June 2018, ←26 | 27→Maulana Fazlullah, the then head of the TTP, continued to operate largely from Nuristan, in Afghanistan. The Swat District, however, returned to a state of relative normalcy during this period.

The next step was to clear terrorists from the FATA. In order to achieve this, the army first cleared the Khyber Agency within the FATA and then shifted its focus to South Waziristan (the hub of the TTP’s operations). ←27 | 28→A two-year campaign was then undertaken to clear North Waziristan, commencing in June 2014 and leading to the removal of terrorist factions from the region. Following a resurgence of terrorist activities in North Waziristan this was followed by Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad in February 2017. In addition to these operations, the military provided ongoing assistance to the civil government in removing terrorists from the major urban centre of Karachi and elsewhere by pursuing a policy of zero-tolerance for terrorism-related violence.

As shown in Fig. 1.2, in regaining control of the territory that was contested by the TTP, Pakistan suffered significantly. In terms of the human cost, from the years 2000–2017 inclusive, over 60,000 people were killed, including 22,191 civilians, 33,901 terrorists/insurgents, and 6,887 security force personnel, encompassing officers from all ranks (South Asia Terrorism Portal, n.d.).

The country has also paid a heavy economic cost. As noted in figures published by Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance, between 2001 and 2016, “the direct and indirect cost incurred by Pakistan due to incidents of terrorism amounted to USD $118.31 billion” (Ministry of Finance, 2016, p.290). Moreover, in ensuring a comprehensive and holistic counter-terrorism ←28 | 29→response, Pakistan as a nation has seen significant shifts in government policy. Most notably, in January 2015, the Government of Pakistan established a National Action Plan, which included amongst its policies the renewal of capital punishment for terrorism offences, creation of special military courts, registration and regulation of religious seminaries, and the freezing of all funding sources for terrorist organisations (Ministry of Information, 2014). As this chapter shall now explore, in order to best support this evolving combat strategy and wider strategic context, over the past decade, the Pakistan Armed Forces have undergone a significant reorientation of their professional military education system.

Reforming Military Education

As a form of warfare, terrorism seeks to exploit perceived deprivations, cleavages and hostile undercurrents within society, and to instigate pseudo-nationalism, ethnic rivalries and religious sentiments to increase its support base and perpetuate its goals. In order to defeat such activities, it is necessary to provide senior officers with a broad understanding of the processes and the socio-cultural contexts that can help terrorism to ←29 | 30→flourish. Moreover, it is vital to ensure greater mutual understanding and cohesion between these senior officers and civilian leaders in wider society.

To achieve this, the Pakistan Armed Forces reoriented the programmes available at their National Defense University (NDU). This included making significant adjustments to the five-week-long National Security Workshop and its National Media Workshop, which provide executive-level forums for parliamentarians, senior military officers, media representatives, government institutions, academics and prominent members of the civil society to learn and debate candidly about the complex religious, economic, cultural, political and military factors influencing Pakistan’s strategic context and to formulate appropriate strategies for national security. In addition to changes to executive level inter-agency courses, the Command and Staff College course was redesigned to allocate more time for the planning and conduct of sub-conventional operations, alongside its core training on conventional conflict.

The curriculum of the Pakistan Military Academy (which delivers junior officer education for the Pakistan Army) was also broadened to provide increased education on Pakistani society and culture, with a focus on promoting skills in civil-military engagement. Upon their commission and prior to joining their units, young officers within these academies were made to undertake five weeks of rigorous training to hone firing skills, tactics and counter-terrorism techniques with a focus on operations at the unit-level. To ensure that these newly trained units and sub-units were actively employed in sub-conventional operations a number of steps were taken. Most importantly, the training was divided into two phases.

The first phase was designed to occur directly after the officer selection process. During this phase, the unit is sent on three weeks of active defensive security operations within Pakistan, in locations that contain an existing or potential terrorist threat (including within the FATA and Swat District). For the second phase, the unit is then relocated to one of seven counter-terrorism training centres, which provides five weeks of joint training on offensive sub-conventional operations for members of the civil armed forces, police and special forces. This includes the National Counter-terrorism Centre (NCTC), which, as of September 2016, had successfully trained 231,000 soldiers from the armed forces and 3,483 officers and personnel of the police and civil armed forces (Associated Press, ←30 | 31→2016). Continuity between these two phases of training was achieved from day one, by developing and implementing a centralised and coordinated syllabus, as well as instituting a policy requiring Army Headquarters to undertake a one-week review process at the end of the training cycle.

Outside of the progress made by the Pakistan Army, similar programmes were developed within the other services. For example, alongside the ongoing specialised counter-terrorism training undertaken by the Special Services Group (Navy) (SSG(N)), the Pakistan Navy implemented an extensive training regime. This included participation in anti-piracy and anti-terrorism combined task forces in the Gulf and Indian Oceans, and attendance from over 400 officers at the NCTC course (Pakistan Army, 2015). The Pakistan Air Force has also actively participated in a number of counter-terrorism operations, including Al Mizan in 2004, Tri Star in 2008 and Zarb-e-Azb. In line with this increased contribution, it sought to enhance the capacity for Pakistan and its allies to undertake “air operations against non-state actors” by developing the Airpower Centre of Excellence (Aman, 2016, 00:08:29).

Alongside these service-specific activities, the armed forces as a whole sought to enhance interoperability in sub-conventional operations, as evidenced by their increased participation in bi- and multi-lateral joint exercises with foreign militaries and, in January 2017, the appointment of former Chief of Army Staff, General (Ret.) Raheel Sharif as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Military Alliance, an intergovernmental counter-terrorist alliance of 41 Muslim countries. As well as enhancing counter-terrorism training at the strategic and tactical levels, the armed forces have sought to increase the number of soldiers they have with the specialist skills required for operational success. A key example of this can be seen in the creation of the Counter IED, Explosives and Munitions School in Risalpur, established in 2012 to help train specialist personnel in the identification and neutralisation of IEDs. This remains a key focus area for the military, in line with the continued humanitarian impact of IEDs in Pakistan. From 2001 to 2016, for example, Pakistan as a nation suffered 4,724 deaths from 4,063 IED attacks (Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, 2016).

In addition to explosive ordinance disposal, the military has placed renewed emphasis on marksmanship and physical agility. The prioritisation ←31 | 32→of sharp shooting skills creates a direct tactical advantage, particularly in view of the peculiar terrain in the FATA and along the Western borders. To optimise efficiency, a marksman unit was created that was capable of assisting other units as well as undertaking independent operations to target terrorist leaders. In line with the difficult terrain along the Western borders, increased fitness for all ranks was also prioritised. Finally, to ameliorate the previous physical standard of its soldiers, the Pakistan Army instituted a Physical Agility and Combat Efficiency System (PACES).

The PACES programme led to significant improvements in physical fitness. In 2014, as a means of incentivising and recognising the achievements of the highest performing participants, the army encouraged certain soldiers to attempt to break Guinness World Records in physical activities. This led to a range of new world records, including the record for ‘most push-ups in 24 hours’ achieved by Captain Muhammad Arbab (Arbab, 2014). In addition to this, the army also created its own PACES Competition, to motivate and celebrate physical competition amongst its soldiers. As of 2017 the PACES Competition has become an international event, welcoming soldiers from any foreign military to compete (Pakistan Army, 2017).

Wider Application of Lessons Learned

The methods employed by the Pakistan Government and its armed forces in preparing and educating its soldiers, civilian leaders, media representatives and wider civilian population for a comprehensive counter-terrorism response may be defined as a success in their effective removal of key terrorist organisations, ongoing decrease in terrorist attacks (especially IEDs) and continued deradicalisation of previously marginalised communities. Yet, it should be considered how far these strategies can be applied to the strategic contexts of other nations and regions. Although the implementation of operational methodologies may differ, it could be argued that there exist certain prerequisites for any successful counter-terrorism operation that can be derived from the Pakistan model.

Firstly, the terrorist agenda is constructed around political objectives, which they seek to achieve by exploiting fault lines and positioning alternative socio-political, economic and religious narratives. To combat this ←32 | 33→threat, a nation must stand united, display a strong resolve and reject the terrorist agenda. This includes demonstrating support for the armed forces. Political will, leadership, resolve and popular support are essential ingredients of any counter-terrorist strategy. Although certain terrorist factions may seek to employ the rationale of religion to increase their support base, the Pakistan case-study reveals that the vast majority of people both reject these radical philosophies and manage to avoid a mentality that associates Islam with terrorism as well as violence.

Secondly, terrorism creates a new form of conflict in which there are no front lines and no legal conventions for the conduct of warfare. Terrorists operate in and amongst the people and compete with the government for influence over the people and for control of space. This form of conflict alters the operational environment, making uncertainty pervasive. Heightened complexity, competitiveness and hybrid threats can materialise at any time, and often at the most uncertain time. This new form of conflict requires that today’s soldier be innovative, agile and operationally adaptable. They should understand local dialects and have language proficiency skills. Since soldiers must frequently engage and negotiate with the general population, the profession requires individual acumen, a high degree of emotional intelligence, technological literacy and the ability to work with diverse forces effectively. All of this must be imparted by contemporary military education programmes, alongside the basic warfighting requirements that a soldier be physically fit, mentally hardened and capable of withstanding the trauma resulting from terrorist attacks.


Aman, S. (2016). Defence & Diplomacy: Air Chief Interview. Interview with Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of Air Staff (CAS), by Sultan Hali. PTF World, 25 May. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2w4v9Hj6_E (Accessed 3 April 2018).

Arbab, M. (2014). My Journey to the Guinness World Record. Hilal Magazine. Ed. 9, Vol. 50, March.

Associated Press of Pakistan (2016). Army will defend every inch of Pakistan: COAS. Associated Press of Pakistan [online], 23 September. Available at: https://www.app.com.pk/coas-visits-national-counter-terrorism-centre- inaugurates-state-of-art-features/ (Accessed 3 April 2018).

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Brown, Ed. (2007). Map of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas [online]. Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NWFP_and_FATA.jpg (Accessed 2 January 2018). Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license (see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/deed.en).

Ministry of Finance (2016). Pakistan Economic Survey 2015–16. Government of Pakistan Ministry of Finance [online]. Available at: http://www.finance.gov.pk/survey_1516.html (Accessed 3 April 2018).

Ministry of Information (2014). National Action Plan. Government of Pakistan Ministry of Information.

Pakistan Army (2015). Press Release: Rawalpindi – September 20, 2015. Pakistan Army [online]. Available at: https://www.pakistanarmy.gov.pk/AWPReview/pDetails416d.html (Accessed 3 April 2018).

Pakistan Army (2017). Invitation to Participate in 2nd International Physical Agility and Combat Efficiency System (PACES) Competition – 2017. Pakistan Army [online]. Available at: https://www.pakistanarmy.gov.pk/UserFiles/Image/InFocus/pats%20and%20paces/PACES.pdf (Accessed 3 April 2018).

Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (2016). IED Attacks in Pakistan Since 2001. Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies [online], 10 May. Available at: https://www.picss.net/militant-activities-physical-assaults-killings-in-pakistan-since-2001/ (Accessed 7 February 2017).

South Asia Terrorism Portal (no date) Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Pakistan 2000–2018. South Asia Terrorism Portal [online], 11 March. Available at: http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/database/casualties.htm (Accessed 3 April 2018).

United Nations Peacekeeping (no date). Troop and police contributors. United Nations Peacekeeping [online]. Available at: https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/troop-and-police-contributors (Accessed 3 April 2018).

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1 This chapter is adapted from a keynote presentation delivered by the author, at a “Professional Military Education Working Group” hosted by the Centre for Military Education Outreach (King’s College London), held on the 10–11th December 2015 at the Joint Services Command and Staff College (Shrivenham, U.K.).

Major General (Ret.) Muhammad Inuwa Idris

Professional Military Education for the Modern Officer: The Nigerian Experience1

Abstract: This chapter examines the need for and potential areas of reform within the Nigerian professional military educational system. It highlights how aspects such as the over-politicization and careerism of military officers, absence of joint doctrine, broad replication of external curricula, and negligent staff recruitment and retention policies have hindered the Nigerian military educational system and, in turn, its capacity to deal with the increased terrorist threat from organisations such as Boko Haram. It then highlights the reforms that were implemented at the National Defence Academy (Kaduna) from 2013–2015, in order to overcome the deficiencies within the academy. It argues that the creation of collaborative links and strategic partnerships between colleges (both nationally and internationally), the need to balance long-term projects with immediate gains, and to safeguard long-term reforms are vital to mitigating the deficiencies of the current system.

Keywords: PME, military education, Nigerian Armed Forces, National Defence Academy, Boko Haram, intercollegiate collaboration, educational reform


The primary objective of any armed forces is to defend the nation and secure its people. In order to successfully discharge this mission, military officers must be capable of adapting to the evolving character of conflict at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. Furthermore, to maintain its relevance as a fighting force, the military must strive to predict, pre-empt and remain ahead of the challenges it will face.

Yet, the contemporary threat environment facing today’s military is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Training, experience and ←35 | 36→self-improvement can enhance an officer’s adaptability to this environment. In order to produce the most professionally competent leadership for the officer corps, however, it is critical to implement effective professional military education programmes for officers at all levels of the military hierarchy. The goal of such education is to develop and foster breadth of perspective, critical analysis skills, abstract reasoning, innovative thinking and comfort with ambiguity and uncertainty, particularly with respect to complex and non-linear problems.

To use an analogy, military capability may be compared to a four-legged animal. Each leg represents a critical dimension for the continued effectiveness and success of the military: force structure, combat readiness, sustainability and modernisation. If an animal has a missing leg or even just a damaged leg it will find it difficult to function optimally. Above all, it is the leg of modernisation (whether applied to combat, procurement, policy formulation or any other area) that is driven, sustained and enhanced by education. Without relevant, adequate and functional professional education, the military will continue to struggle and continue to fail in its vision.

This chapter is designed to review the state of professional military education in Nigeria. In order to achieve this, it will consider the security context currently facing the Nigerian nation; the deficiencies within its current professional military education systems; the strategies implemented to overcome these deficiencies; and the actions that must be taken to ensure that these changes are effective in the long term. It is based upon personal experience at all levels of the Nigerian professional military education system.

The Nigerian Context

The contemporary challenges confronting nations today have radically reduced the effectiveness of traditional military strategies. In the case of Nigeria, state security forces have been overwhelmed by the pace and the dynamism with which national security threats have evolved and spread. This is especially the case with the phenomena of terrorism and violent extremism. Although organisations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) are designed to assist individual nations in counteracting these threats, in reality they “are less well placed to provide or deliver regional security as envisaged ←36 | 37→in extant policy documents” and “are limited to legitimizing, coordinating and partnering in regional security interventions” (Ismail, 2015, p.202).

In Nigeria, for example, the Islamist group Boko Haram has waged an ongoing campaign of terror, involving attacks on schools, destruction of villages and mass abductions of Nigerian citizens. This has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands and the displacement of over 2.4 million Nigerians (UNHCR, n.d.; Campbell and Harwood, 2018). Their continuing campaign has led to recurrent questions and criticisms from the Nigerian public and government regarding the ability of national security forces to deal with such threats, with a particular focus on the failings of the Nigerian Army.

There exist, of course, wider socio-economic and geopolitical factors that have helped Boko Haram consolidate its influence both within local communities and on the global stage. Yet, this does not negate the criticisms that have been directed at the army’s attempts to achieve a military solution. Whilst deficits in equipment and the motivation of troops necessarily play a factor in operational success, it is important to question whether the army has provided its officers with the education required to successfully anticipate and swiftly adapt to the continually evolving security threats faced within Nigeria.

As with any military, there are a range of economic and political factors influencing the breadth and quality of educational provision. However, there are four key factors that are of particular relevance to the Nigerian context. The first is the historical and contemporary involvement of military officers within political governance, which has “led to the creation of a politicised force” (Eke, 2015, p.291). As noted by Ouédraogo (2014, p.20), any such politicisation of the armed forces often results in:

“a military that is more partisan and less professional in the eyes of society, thereby diminishing respect for the institution – something that is necessary in order to recruit committed, disciplined, and talented soldiers”.

In addition to issues of corruption and sectarianism, one impact of this politicisation is the increased internal emphasis placed upon career progression and political acumen. Although political manoeuvring does not absolve the average Nigerian Army officer of their PME commitments, the shift from the “Institutional” to the “Occupational” military model ←37 | 38→(Moskos, 1981, p.2) has resulted in an ambiguity surrounding students’ motivation to participate and excel in PME courses; specifically, the duality of the course’s career value versus a genuine passion for intellectual self-improvement.

The second factor is the status of joint training doctrine across the Nigerian Armed Forces. In contrast to other nations, the Nigerian military has been a joint tri-service institution from the moment of its creation in 1960. This conceptual jointness, however, was equivalent to many of Nigeria’s other post-independence constitutional policies, which “had little reality beyond their physical existence as a set of written symbols deposited in a government archive” (Zolberg, 1968, p.72; see also Luckham, 1975, p.1). Furthermore, as noted by Omeni (2018, p.94):

“military doctrine in Nigeria for the most part fails to draw on practical experiences within the operating environment. Rather the doctrine draws, extensively so in some places, from Western military doctrine and from a broad range of military practices – except those from within, ab intra, Nigeria’s own military environment”.

Although there is an increasing curricular emphasis on jointness at the staff and war college level, and greater successes in joint exercises since early clumsy attempts such as Operation Sea Dog, there still exist significant failures in collaboration from the inter-service down to the inter-departmental levels. A relevant example of this is the absence of coordination between the training provided at the Nigerian Defence Academy (Kaduna), the Armed Forces Command and Staff College (Jaji) and the National Defence College (Abuja). This lack of coordination has resulted in a system whereby the Commandant or senior directors of an individual college are able to implement significant changes without first consulting or notifying other ‘partner’ colleges. This environment has led to a counterproductive culture of institutional protectionism between colleges in areas such as curricular reform and knowledge sharing.

The third factor is the lack of evolution in the intellectual content being utilised by officers within the armed forces. A key aspect of this is the tendency in the Nigerian military to mirror the practices of other armed forces, without adapting them to Nigeria’s unique socio-political, economic and cultural contexts. As revealed by Omeni (2018, p.14), this “institutional isomorphism” includes a particularly prominent “institutional transfer ←38 | 39→between the British colonialist military and the Nigerian military that emerged post independence”. This scenario has led to significant redundancies within the intellectual content available at Nigerian military colleges, as well as a lack of serious curricular development at the institutional level. A key example of this can be found in the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), which is accredited by the Nigerian Government to award civilian degrees to its students, up to the level of PhD. As a result of its status, the NDA has attempted to compete with civilian institutions in its provision of postgraduate education, by developing a broad range of courses with no direct relevance to the military profession.

In addition to their lack of relevance, by 2013 the expansion of subject matters within the NDA had become counterproductive and even overwhelming for the college’s finances and staff workload. This led to a scenario in which the academy was forced to nearly close its postgraduate school altogether. As a result of this, in 2013 when I was placed in the role of Commandant of the NDA, I was forced to wholly eliminate 30 out of the college’s 68 postgraduate courses, due to their complete lack of relevance for the military profession.

Although it can be argued that a learning organisation such as the military should be diverse in its research areas, this does not necessitate placing limited resources and budget into developing these courses internally within military educational institutions. Indeed, in such cases where the military requires expertise in a non-military specialisation, it is often simpler and more cost-effective to send officers to civilian academic institutions. Military academies themselves should focus both their human and financial resources into subjects that are of direct relevance to the military function and are unlikely to be taught in civilian universities.

The final factor relates to the allocation and recruitment of personnel within military educational institutions. By 2013 the National Defence Academy contained a higher ratio of teaching staff with ‘professor’ or ‘assistant professor’ status than many civilian universities in Nigeria, often as a result of political favouritism. This scenario led to a culture of complacency and a lack of competition across college staff. Although such officials possessed masters and doctoral qualifications, they often lacked basic pedagogical training. Moreover, there existed an active opposition to pedagogical or educational reforms.

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This lack of proficiency within the civilian college staff was further exacerbated by challenges surrounding the retention of military staff. In the 2014–2015 academic year, for example, the National Defence Academy had a turnover of three registrars; a role of critical importance to the functioning of a college and one that requires a minimum 5-year employment contract in civilian universities within Nigeria. In addition to this, there existed a significant number of short-term military instructors, who were mandated to teach at the college if they had achieved an ‘A’ grade within one of their professional development courses. Although certain college roles (such as that of Directing Staff) are considered prestigious and therefore worthwhile for an officer, these shorter tenures are often undesirable for officers who are seeking to use their learning and specialisation within more prestigious combat roles.

The final personnel-related challenge for Nigerian military education, as well as for the armed forces in general, was the semi-regular ‘compulsory retirement exercises’ undertaken by the Nigerian Government, during which large numbers of senior officers are forcibly retired, as they have either reached the age of 60, served for 35 years in the military, or for other politically expedient reasons. These exercises typically result in the retirement of around 50–70 senior officers per year (see, for example, Special Correspondent, 2014 and Usman, 2016). This retirement age is not an unusual one in comparison to other militaries and creates opportunities for younger, educated and innovative officers to rise through the ranks. However, the practical implementation of this system generates two specific challenges for the Nigerian Armed Forces. Firstly, retirement often occurs at the point at which officers are most capable of making wide-ranging reforms for reasons other than personal career progression or political infighting. Secondly, the process of retiring officers in large annual or bi-annual batches, rather than via a gradual phased method over the course of the year, reduces the military’s ability to create a smooth transition between incoming and outgoing leaders.

Practical Strategies for Military Education Reform

Although the range of challenges facing Nigerian military education both was and still remains significant, the possibility of reform exists. As a means of exploring this potential, I will now outline the four key changes ←40 | 41→that I sought to make in my role as Commandant of the National Defence Academy (Kaduna) from 2013–2015. The first change was to initiate the development of a joint training and education doctrine. Fortunately, my tenure as Commandant of the academy occurred at a time when two of my former NDA coursemates were appointed as commandants of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College (Jaji) and the National Defence College (Abuja) respectively. Although at first, we attempted to develop this doctrine in partnership, the process was inhibited by the conventional protectionist mentality that surrounds inter-departmental and inter-organisational collaboration. In order to overcome this, the NDA composed and submitted its own proposal for a joint doctrine to the other colleges for their review and amendments. It remains to be seen however how far this joint doctrine will develop, now that the commandants of all three colleges have been superseded.

The second improvement we sought to achieve was to further contextualise the training and education provided at the NDA through simulation exercises. Such exercises are neither cheap nor easy to implement. To ensure cost-effectiveness and superior quality within a limited time period, we coordinated with the U.S. National Defense University to send our faculty members to attend the annual simulation exercises that follow their capstone course. This resulted in three annual trips with over ten faculty members per year attending exercises of direct relevance to counter-terrorism operations against Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). This participation also enhanced the channels of communication and collaboration between U.S. and Nigerian military educators.

The third reform we implemented was a review of our curriculum, in order to better align and connect the processes of ‘education’ and ‘training’ within the academy. Previous to this, there existed a disconnect between these two interdependent aspects. A key example of this realignment is the changes that were made regarding the level of education given to students on the consequences of firing a weapon. Although soldiers were well trained in marksmanship, we had to reorient our programmes so that this technical skill was complemented with increased learning on the tactical, strategic and ethical questions that a soldier must account for prior to discharging their weapon.

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The fourth and by far the most extensive set of reforms, however, involved restructuring the departments and courses within the NDA to increase their direct relevance to the challenges facing the contemporary military soldier. This process was designed to radically increase the number of military-specific subjects available within the academy. In 2013, for example, the National Defence Academy featured courses in subjects such as business and management studies, but none on leadership, homeland security or intelligence. Indeed, despite the fact that it possessed a history department, this department was focussed on general historical studies rather than military history specifically.

Prior to our reforms, the academy contained three faculties: The Faculty of Science, Faculty of Engineering, and Faculty of Social Sciences. In order to counteract the deficit of military studies, we gained approval from the government to make three significant changes and one symbolic change. Firstly, we reorganised the engineering faculty into the Faculty of Engineering and Technology, in order to generate a heightened focus on providing technological solutions to evolving threats. Secondly, we gained permission to create an entirely new faculty, named the Faculty of Military Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies. This new faculty was designed to bring together research and researchers with a specific military focus or an interdisciplinary focus of relevance to the military. Thirdly, in partnership with the Office of the President, we sought to expand our psychology department into a new Institute of Psychology, in order to radically enhance the services and research available for soldiers and families affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), due to the ongoing trauma of insurgency within Nigeria. Finally, in line with the importance of symbolic narratives in relation to the cultural adoption of any such reform process, we renamed the postgraduate school as the School of Graduate and Advanced Military Studies.

Realistically, these changes at the faculty level were designed to enhance educational provision in the mid- to long-term. This is due both to the fact that staff will require time to become culturally habituated to the reforms, and that it will be three to five years until the first students of these new faculties will graduate. In order to balance these mid- to long-term effects with more immediate gains, we introduced five specialist research and teaching centres. These centres enabled us to introduce a range of new short ←42 | 43→courses, in partnership with military and academic partners from countries including the United Kingdom, the United States and India. The first institution was the Centre for Critical Thinking, Teaching and Learning, designed to help develop the lateral thinking skills required for contemporary officers to be capable of adapting to the evolving threat environment. In order to generate internal support for the centre prior to its creation, we sent thirteen senior officers (including the Deputy Commandant and the heads of all faculties) to the International Conference on Critical Thinking. We also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the U.S. Foundation for Critical Thinking, to assist in the development of courses.

Secondly, we created the Centre for Leadership and Complex Operations Studies, which we planned to develop further into an Institute for Leadership, designed to enhance the military’s education on governance, leadership management and command skills. Thirdly, we constructed the Centre for Applied Technology and Innovation, to reorient the focus of our military engineers towards the creation of practical solutions for military challenges. Instead of funding broad academic studies with no immediate military relevance, the centre was designed to focus investment on specific military challenges such as protecting urban environments and critical national infrastructures from bomb threats, or tracking the military vehicles, ammunition and armaments that are currently being seized by terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram. The fourth centre was the Centre for Documentation and Applied Lessons, which was intended to act as the central organisation for the simulation and documentation of lessons learned.

The final institution was the Centre for Languages, designed to increase the NDA’s provision of foreign language training from two voluntary elective courses in French and Arabic. Specifically, the centre will make it mandatory for every cadet and undergraduate student to take an elective module in at least one of three languages: French, Arabic or Chinese. This emphasis is vital given Nigeria’s geographical connection to French- and Arabic-speaking nations, and the increasing role played by China in African economic investment (Mawere and Tandi, 2016, p.394) and global politico-military affairs, including regional peacekeeping operations (Fung, 2016, p.1).

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It should be noted that, integral to the development and mid-term maintenance of these reforms was a prominent focus on strategic partnerships, MoUs and service contracts. Over the course of two years, we were able to create two dedicated e-libraries with U.S. partners and to secure agreements to create a specific military-focussed e-library for both the postgraduate and undergraduate schools at the National Defence Academy. In order to initiate postgraduate courses in military-specific subjects such as intelligence and democracy without delay, we created partnerships with institutions including the U.S. National Defense University and the U.S. Army War College. Finally, in order to avoid the talent drain caused by compulsory retirement exercises, we set aside funds to enable retired officers with relevant strategic and operational experience to participate in the NDA’s teaching and curricular development as honorary ‘fellows’. It should be acknowledged that cultural change within the military is not a rapid process, and the success of long-term reforms requires an ongoing cultural shift within the senior officer corps.

The Way Forward for Nigerian Military Education

It remains to be seen how far these reforms will take hold in the mid- to long-term. What is certain, however, is that the Nigerian Armed Forces face a dire need to create advanced military education programmes that are directly relevant to their current and future strategic, operational and tactical challenges. Moreover, they must achieve this in the era of the ‘strategic Corporal’, in which even junior officers are required to understand the reasons and purpose behind their actions. How can the military accomplish this in a period of constrained budgets, with an institutional culture that perceives education as detrimental to career prospects?

Firstly, it must substantially increase the professional incentives and career prospects of officers who are appointed to teach within its military education institutions. Secondly, it must create a joint education and training doctrine, and a process of continuous curricular review. Thirdly, it must expand its current emphasis on moral and political education, interdisciplinary sciences and critical thinking skills. Finally, it must embrace technology, especially the use of ICT to enhance blended and distributed learning opportunities. The combination of these factors above all will allow the military to provide strategically relevant and cost-effective ←44 | 45→education throughout its hierarchy, from the lowest ranked soldier to the most senior officer.

The primary goal of education, whether military or civilian, should be to change our methods and our mindsets for the better. It should enable us to improve our ways and solve contemporary problems within our own field of expertise. It should make us smarter and wiser. Otherwise, education will simply be a burden of information that we carry around with us. It is due to this high ideal that we as officers must constantly question our existing methods and priorities for professional military education. In practical terms, this means that we must continue to interrogate and reform the structures, programmes and policies of our military colleges and academies because, as noted in a speech made by Winston Churchill at the Pentagon in 1946:

“Professional attainment, based on prolonged study, and collective study at colleges, rank by rank, and age by age — those are the title reeds of the commanders of the future armies, and the secret of future victories.” (United States Congress, 1989, p.12)


Campbell, J. and Harwood, A. (2018). Boko Haram’s Deadly Impact. Council on Foreign Relations [online]. 20 August. Available at: https://www.cfr.org/article/boko-harams-deadly-impact (Accessed 2 January 2018).

Eke, S.J. (2015). Why this Charity Begins Abroad: Comparing Nigeria’s Foreign Peacekeeping Undertakings and Domestic Counter-insurgency Operations. The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 104(3): pp.281–296.

Fung, C.J. (2016). China’s Troop Contributions to UN Peacekeeping. Peace Brief, 212(July). Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace: pp.1-5

Ismail, O. (2015). The Boko Haram Insurgency and the Changing Patterns of Regional Security Arrangements in Africa. In: Hanson, K.T. (ed.) Contemporary Regional Development in Africa, pp.201–224. Abingdon: Routledge.

Luckham, R. (1975). The Nigerian Military: A Sociological Analysis of Authority and Revolt 1960–67. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Mawere, M. and Tandi, C. (2016). ‘A New Form of Imperialism?’ Interrogating China-Africa Relations and Development Prospects in Africa. In: Mawere, M. (ed.) Development Perspectives from the South: Troubling the Metrics of [Under-]development in Africa, pp.393–414. Cameroon: Langaa RPCIG.

Moskos, C.C. (1981). Institution versus Occupation: Contrasting Models of Military Organization. Paper presented at the International Security Studies Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Available at: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a096966.pdf (Accessed 10 October 2017).

Omeni, A. (2018). Counter-Insurgency in Nigeria: The Military and Operations against Boko Haram, 2011–2017. London: Routledge.

Ouédraogo, E. (2014). Advancing Military Professionalism in Africa. Washington, D.C.: Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

Special Correspondent (2014). 140 Military Generals Retired In Two Years. Leadership [online], 15 February. Available at: http://leadership.ng/news/345540/140-military-generals-retired-two-years (Accessed 10 October 2017).

UNHCR (no date). Nigeria emergency. UNHCR [online]. Available at: https://www.unhcr.org/nigeria-emergency.html (Accessed 2 January 2019).

United States Congress (House Committee on Armed Services) (1989). Report of the Panel on Military Education of the One Hundredth Congress of the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives: One Hundred First Congress, first session. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O.

Usman, S.K. (2016). Update On Compulsory Retirement of Nigerian Army Officers. NTA [online], 13 June. Available at: http://www.nta.ng/news/20160613-update-on-the-compulsory-retired-nigerian-army-officers/ (Accessed 10 October 2017).

Zolberg, A.R. (1968). The Structure of Political Conflict in the New States of Tropical Africa. The American Political Science Review, 62(1), March: pp.70–87.

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1 This chapter is adapted from a keynote presentation delivered by the author, at a “Professional Military Education Working Group” hosted by the Centre for Military Education Outreach (King’s College London), held on the 10–11th December 2015 at the Joint Services Command and Staff College (Shrivenham, U.K.).

Colonel Ulysses Prada

The Impact of Political-Military Relations on the Professional Training of the Uruguayan Armed Forces

Abstract: Using Charles Moskos’ formative concept of the Institutional, Occupational and Plural models for the armed forces, this chapter outlines how the frameworks and objectives of military education are dependent upon and necessarily tailored towards the military’s wider organizational structure. Specifically, it examines how civil-military mistrust within Uruguay, from the 1920s until the early 21st century, has resulted in a lack of sufficient direction for the armed forces, which in turn has inhibited their ability to prepare and evolve an educational system relevant for Uruguay’s specific national security contexts. The author concludes that, for the Uruguayan military to generate relevant educational programmes for its officers and soldiers, it must be provided with a long-term vision for national security that is not influenced by party-politics.

Keywords: PME, military education, civil-military relations, Armed Forces of Uruguay, Escuela Militar, CAEN, CALEN


In the inaugural conference of the Castilian Association of Sociology held in May 1982, Charles C. Moskos – once famously described by Professor David Segal in the Wall Street Journal as the “most influential military sociologist in the country, and probably in the world” (Ricks, 1993, p.1) – gave the following assessment of the armed forces:

“The academic definitions and the ideological attitudes towards the armed forces fluctuate between two ends. On one end, there are those who see military men as a reflection of the dominant social values and completely dependent on civilian leadership. On the other end, others accentuate the difference between the values of the military and those of the rest of the society, and affirm that military men exert an independent influence in the civil society”.1 (Moskos, 1982, p.297)

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In Moskos’ system, we find two models for the armed forces, complemented by a third one that synthesizes them. These models cover the whole spectrum of military organizations, and are named by Moskos as the “Institutional”, “Occupational” and “Plural” (Ibid., 299). The Institutional model is based on values and norms, and views the military career as a vocation that prioritizes the collective interest. This model espouses such principles and values as homeland, honour, loyalty, sense of duty, sacrifice and heroism. The Occupational model sees the military career as an occupation like any other, in which monetary reward is the means by which one regulates the needs of the individual and the organization. This model prioritizes the interests of the individual above those of the military institution, and does not cultivate the same values as the Institutional model, since it classifies military personnel as clerks more tied to civil society than to the military itself. Finally, the Plural model combines the organizational tendencies of the previous models into a heterogeneous military organization where the formation of combat units conforms to the Institutional model and the formation of administrative units conforms to the Occupational one (Ibid., p.299 passim).

Evidently, each model implies a worldview of the armed forces and their insertion in society. As this chapter will argue, the evolution of military education in Uruguay is directly linked with the evolution of this viewpoint within politico-military circles, which is itself directly influenced by the ideologies that emerged out of the country’s and the region’s politico-military experiences and civil-military relations. In order to achieve this, the chapter will first provide a broad overview of politico-military relations and military education from the 1920s until the early 21st century. It will then focus on the shift in political and civil-military priorities seen under the Frente Amplio (“Broad Front”) government from 2005 onwards, before considering the repercussions of these changes for contemporary military education in Uruguay.

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From Productive Isolation to Coup D’état

Historically, the Armed Forces of Uruguay were based on the Institutional model. In contrast to its neighbours, Uruguay quickly overcame the trend of military governments that had characterized Latin America after emancipation from Spain until late into the 20th century. As a result, the Armed Forces of Uruguay became increasingly isolated from civilians and politicians from the 1920s onwards, avoiding participation in partisan struggles and non-professional matters, and focusing instead on continued self-improvement (Bañales Guimaraens, 1970, p.290). This meant that the professional quality of Uruguayan officers matched the most demanding European standards and stood out in the sub-continent, despite scarce resources. This is evidenced by the breadth and depth of subjects taught in military training courses within the period. For instance, in the Lieutenant Colonel promotion course, officers were taught tactics, command and staff procedures, military administration, military organization, military law, military history, military geography, sociology, and political economy amongst other topics (Ibid., p.307).

The 1973 coup d’état led to a radical change in this training system, since officers from different forces began occupying political positions in ministries, banks, government departments, police headquarters, educational institutions, and so forth. In these new roles, their professional military training provided them with minimal advantages. This led to a restructuring in the content of training courses within the armed forces, in which the amount of time dedicated to professional military subjects was reduced so as to enable courses oriented towards political and governmental subjects such as political economy, sociology, political science, administration, international affairs and geopolitics.

After the restoration of democracy in 1985, the political parties of Uruguay proposed that the armed forces should be modernized, ensuring their subordination to the civil power and reinserting them into contemporary democracy. In order to achieve this, they enacted two key policy changes. The first one reformulated the task of the armed forces from “contributing to external and internal National Security” (Ley N°14.157, 1974, Art.2) to that of “defending the honor, the independence and the peace of the Republic, the integrity of its territory, its constitution and ←51 | 52→its laws” (Ley Nº 15.808, 1986, Art.2). Thus, the parliament limited the actions of the armed forces to the external security of the Republic. This policy was further facilitated by the end of the Cold War and the emergence of a “new world order”, as laid down by President George W. Bush Sr. (Bush, 1991a and 1991b), in which traditional threats to national security would be reduced to a minimum, opening new possibilities for the peaceful settlement of conflicts, and allowing more space for international cooperation in pursuit of greater economic and social development.

The second change was aimed at reintegrating the armed forces within civil society by reorienting the curricula of the military academies. The 1989 curriculum of the Escuela Militar del Uruguay (Military School of the Uruguayan Army), for example, raised among other objectives the goal “to transform the Military School into a tertiary institute exclusively, that is to say into a true military college” (Anon., 1989, p.5). Specifically, it sought to increase students’ access to the wider civilian university system by allowing them to revalidate some subjects they had already taken in the Escuela Militar. This gave officers the opportunity to avoid one to two years of additional study in some civilian careers, such as law or engineering.

It was hoped that this measure, amongst other reforms, would assist in reversing the steady decline of applicants for enrolment that had taken place after the removal of the armed forces from power. Although it was not explicitly stated, this objective was recognized implicitly in an article published within the Escuela Militar’s magazine Destellos, which hypothesized one potential outcome of this new system: “If the number of applicants for enrollment increases up to a considerable quantity, it will be possible for us to demand another type of test” for admission to the school (Ibid., p.10). The success or defeat of this plan was dependent upon the existence of a few “essential pillars”:

“a) teachers with college level studies and qualified experience; b) suitable and accessible literature; c) places for students to study that should offer the basic comforts required to complete assignments; d) laboratories and offices to support the practical courses and e) planning and evaluation centralized in a technician-teacher organ that can coordinate the processes of education and learning of the whole Institute” (Ibid.)

To achieve this, the Escuela Militar required greater economic resources. Unfortunately, this was not something that the political parties were ←52 | 53→willing to grant. Among other reasons, this was due to a lack of trust in the armed forces held by different political sectors and the civil society after its performance as the de facto government. Over the course of 20 years of democratic rule, this scenario gradually evolved, until the 2002 Uruguayan banking crisis that plunged the country into a period of significant economic contraction.

The Rise of Frente Amplio

In 2005, as a direct result of the banking crisis, the Frente Amplio (a centre-left to left-wing political coalition) succeeded in gaining a significant majority in the Uruguayan national parliament. Fortunately for the Frente Amplio, by the time they had taken office, the economic crisis had already begun to reverse, thanks to a commodities boom that was to generate a period of economic expansion. This led to the re-election of the coalition government with parliamentary majorities for two consecutive periods.

This economic boom, however, did not provide the expected financial relief for national defence requirements. Instead, the new government prioritized spending on social policies and internal safety. This led to a lack of investment in the armed forces to the point whereby they had 27 % fewer personnel by 2011 and approximately a 60 % smaller budget than in 1985, even though they retained the same number and level of deployments (Peláez, 2011, p.158 passim). Indeed, although the national defence budget rose by 91.8 % between 2005 and 2016, it still diminished as a percentage of overall GDP. In 2009, it represented 1.4 % of GDP. Yet, from 2009 onwards there occurred an annual decrease up to the end of 2015, by which time it was less than 1.1 % (UyPress, 2016).

In order to change this scenario, the Frente Amplio party promulgated a normative body for national defence, which was the result of the provisions of the National Defence Framework Law of 19 February 2010 (Ley N°18.650, 2010), as well as the Ministry of Defence’s Decree 105/014 on National Defence Policy (Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, 2014) and Decree 129/016 on Military Defence Policy (Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, 2016). As a result of these laws and decrees, the armed forces were once again provided with the mission of engaging in domestic affairs ←53 | 54→(Ley N°18.650, 2010, Art.1 and 20; Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, 2014, pp.15–16). The government took advantage of this repeatedly to assist with climatic emergencies such as floods (Anon., 2015a and 2015b), sanitary emergencies such as the National Dengue Prevention Campaign (Organización Panamericana de la Salud, n.d.), guarding the perimeters of national prisons (Anon., 2017), and even assisting in garbage collection to preserve public health during union strikes (Bonilla, 2010).

The expanded role of the military generated frictions within parliament, as some sectors of the coalition did not agree with the new missions that were given to the armed forces. In fact, until 2005, the Frente Amplio’s official policy on national security, signed by several political leaders of the coalition, emphasized that:

“The missions of the armed forces, as a rule, will not be internal security/policing. It has been ruled out that the armed forces prepare development plans and fulfil tasks of ‘civic action’, whether these respond to the strategy of the ‘Pan-American military system’ or of another origin. Nor will they be authorized to develop armed forces alien to the Republic.” (Comisión Especial de Defensa del Frente Amplio, Art.III.1)

Although the document clarifies that the Executive Branch, via the national parliament, would be able to authorize the use of the armed forces in “exceptional cases of internal commotion and other serious national emergencies (calamities, floods, etc.) that exceed the installed capacities of the competent public agencies” (Ibid., Art.III.2), the document calls for the avoidance of any civil-military actions that would allow the armed forces to “capture the will and the conscience of the civilian population” (Ibid., Art.III.1).

Despite the fact that some of the signatories of the party’s national security policy were to hold posts of Defence Minister after the Frente Amplio’s victory in the 2004 general elections, it did not implement this policy once in government; potentially due to political compromise, a disconnect between political strength and parliamentary votes (Licandro, 2011), or a separation between the ideology of opposition and the pragmatic realities of governance. Despite this tactical shift, left-wing officials within the Frente Amplio government still retain serious prejudices against the military (see, for example, Menéndez, 2016) and disagreement with their government’s policies regarding the armed forces (Licandro, 2011).

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Civil-Military Relations under Frente Amplio

This inherent distrust of the military across political parties in general and the Frente Amplio in particular raises a key question for the armed forces: is this lack of trust only present at the political level or across Uruguayan society as a whole? This topic is addressed at a broader regional level by Professor Marcela Donadio (2003), who states that:

“in reality this seemingly semantic distinction hides a deeper problem. If the professional soldier serves the state citizens, in a democratic regime this means that the legitimately elected government represents society, and that the relationship between the political class and the military is an expression of the relations between society and the armed forces”.

Despite its logic, Donadio’s conclusion may not be wholly applicable to the scenario now faced by the Armed Forces of Uruguay. As noted in research by Daniel Isgleas, as of 2015 a total of 53 % of Uruguayans have either “significant” or “partial” trust in the armed forces, whereas 43 % have either “little” or “no” trust in them (Isgleas, 2016). Moreover, as noted by Isgleas:

“Since the Frente Amplio came to office in 2005, the confidence of Uruguayans in the armed forces has been steadily rising, ranking in 2015 above the averages recorded during the last two governments of the Partido Colorado, the second term of Julio María Sanguinetti from 1995 to 2000, and the administration of Jorge Batlle between 2000 and 2005.” (Ibid.)

As shown in Tab. 3.1, these results are reinforced by a 2014 survey of public confidence in national institutions within Uruguay, undertaken by the polling organization Factum Digital (see Bottinelli and Vilar, 2014). Based on the Factum Index of Image which expresses, on a scale of 0 to 100, the average of the positive opinions and the non-negative opinions gathered in relative terms, which are in turn weighted by the level of opinion, the survey highlighted how public confidence in the armed forces is slightly higher than public confidence in the national parliament and notably higher than public confidence in political parties.

Tab. 3.1: Survey of public confidence in national institutions within Uruguay, by Factum Digital (Bottinelli and Vilar, 2014).






ISBN (Book)
Publication date
2019 (June)
PME Military pedagogy Military training Military reform Defence college Education reform
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. 234 pp., 5 fig. b/w, 4 tables.

Biographical notes

Duraid Jalili (Volume editor) Hubert Annen (Volume editor)

Duraid Jalili is a doctoral student at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the U.K. Joint Services Command and Staff College. <B> Hubert Annen</B> is head of Military Psychology and Military Pedagogy Studies at the Swiss Military Academy at ETH Zurich.


Title: Professional Military Education